Bucs host GSU team that's not up to par

By Seth Bartee
STAR Correspondent
Georgia Southern will be coming to Johnson City on Saturday, looking for a win in a disappointing season that sees them at (4-4, 2-3 SoCon).
Like so many other teams that the Buccaneers (3-5, 0-4, SoCon) have faced lately, GSU will be looking to turn around a season in which the Eagles will not win the SoCon title for the first time since 1997. The Eagles won six straight SoCon titles and the Division 1-AA championship in 2000.
The last time the two teams faced off in Johnson City, the Bucs beat GSU 19-16 on Oct. 27, 2001, when GSU was ranked No. 1 in the nation. Coach Hamilton realizes that the Bucs cannot dwell on past achievements and must concentrate on the Eagles of present.
"Georgia Southern is one the most recognized football programs in the country, even though they are struggling this year," said Hamilton. "The kids remember the last game two years ago. But the next year (2002), they hammered us down on their home field."
The Bucs have lost all SoCon games this year, and ten straight league games. They face a GSU team that has lost any of their road games this season away from Paulson Stadium.
The big question for ETSU this weekend will be the quarterback situation. Last week at Furman, redshirt freshmen quarterbacks, Scott Butler and Carl Meadows, only combined for 108 yards in the air.
Hamilton said that he will start Butler Saturday. "I do not want Scott having to look over his shoulder, wondering if he will be in the next play," said Hamilton on his confidence in Butler's play. "Scott played well for us most of the game last week. He's put this team in a good position and he deserves to start."
On the defensive side of the field, the Bucs suffered the loss of Tony Tiller last week. Tiller suffered a high ankle sprain in the fourth quarter against Liberty a couple weeks ago. Hamilton said that Tiller has practiced a little bit this week but he's unsure of his status for this Saturday's game.
ETSU's defense continues to be the shining light for the team this season. Tony Tiller is not the standout on the defensive side of the ball. Mike Cullen is first in the SoCon tackles, averaging 11 per game.
Teammate Matt Palmer is 6th in the SoCon, with 8.5 tackles averaged per game. Palmer also leads the SoCon in tackles for losses, averaging 18.5 yards lost. Palmer will have plenty of chances Saturday to chase down GSU quarterback Chaz Williams.
Williams returned to action last week after missing three games following arthroscopic knee surgery. Williams returned with 3:12 to play in the first half and gained 107 yards rushing, his first 100+ game of the season.
"Chaz Williams looked like he has not missed a step," said Hamilton on Williams first game back from injury last Saturday. "He's a great football player and a tough kid. Williams has the physical nature to first and tens, he can go 80 yards in a play."
The Buccaneers will try for the first SoCon victory this Saturday at the Mini Dome at 1 pm. The Eagles will bring the No. 2 scoring offense and No. 1 rushing offense to Johnson City this Saturday to face ETSU's third-ranked total defense.
SoCon Race:
Wofford can clinch at least a share of the Southern Conference championship with a win at the Citadel on Saturday. A win guarantees the Terriers a minimum of a 6-2 league record, a mark that four clubs (Citadel, Furman, Appalachian State, Chattanooga) could match, but not surpass.